Contact Information:
Ignacia Holmes
Department of Biology, McGill University
1205 Docteur Penfield
Montreal, Quebec CANADA H3A 1B1
email: ignacia{dot}holmes{at}mail{dot}mcgill{dot}ca

Background:

I am from Chile were I completed my undergraduate degree in Agricultural Engineering. My interest in understanding the complex relationship between rural communities and their natural environment brought me to do my Masters in Applied Sciences in Rural Development (Massey University New Zealand). I have experience in project implementation as I have worked for United Nations and some local NGOs in Chile and Panama. I have also conducted participatory research with indigenous communities.  Particularly on Rural Tourism as a livelihood diversification option for disadvantaged farming households

Project Summary:

An historical decision was reached at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference in Bali in December 2007.  For the first time, the nations of the world agreed to start combating deforestation with a decision encouraging demonstration activities to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation in developing countries (REDD). Demonstration activities shall generate relevant experience and knowledge, which can help to inform the international negotiation process. This decision stems from the notion of compensated reduction suggesting that deforestation avoided could be monitored to form a new sector in the carbon market (Santilli et al 2005). Panama has been an active participant in the REDD negotiations taking part in several submissions with both the Coalition of Rainforest Nation and informal blocks of Latin American Countries.

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), will offset its carbon dioxide emissions by working with the Ipetí- emberá indigenous community to conserve forests and reforest degraded lands with native tree species. The initiative is based in the premise that tropical forests sequester large amounts of carbon dioxide, an important greenhouse. By protecting forests - thereby avoiding emissions from deforestation - and establishing plantations with native tree species, the program will generate carbon credits that STRI can use to offset the emissions that it can not reduce via a new energy efficiency program. Extra credits may be sold in the voluntary carbon market. The proceeds will be used to establish a fund that benefits all members of the Embera community of Ipeti.

My research will explore best approaches for the sound implementation of carbon initiatives and thus achieving ecosystem conservation, emission reduction and poverty alleviation. For this, the project will develop a leakage control methodology, establish agroforestry systems to increase carbon stocks, create awareness amongst indigenous communities, determine the socio-economic impacts and systematize lessons learnt and best practices. The benefits of the project will be local, national and international and will be key to the long-term protection of the unique forests of Panama. My research will be intiated in January 2009.

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